As the UK looks to “build back better”, Richard Hipkiss, development director of the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) raises the thorny issue of reducing landfill waste and improving material optimisation

According to the UK Green Building Council, approximately 400m tonnes of materials are used by the UK construction industry annually. The council’s vision for a sustainable built environment is one that eliminates waste and maximises resource efficiency.

However, there is a great void between this vision and reality, with Transparency Market Research predicting that annual construction waste could reach 2.2bn tonnes per year globally by 2025. Reducing landfill waste, therefore, has to be a priority. Volumetric modular construction can provide a practical solution.

Individual modules are produced in factory settings, maximising resource efficiency while also allowing better control over optimising material use. The surplus materials are recycled or reused for future projects, reducing the construction waste that ends up in landfill.

Materials are protected from moisture and extreme weather conditions, reducing the risk of disposal through water ingress and damage. While widely recognised that volumetric modular technology has the potential to reduce overall construction programmes, it is not often acknowledged this approach can reduce up to 90% of waste generated when compared with traditional construction methods.

Volumetric modular technology can improve resource efficiency


Resource efficiency is the maximisation of time, processes, materials and labour to function more effectively. Volumetric modular technology can help deliver sustainability credentials in the entire construction value chain to improve resource and productivity efficiency.

Modular builds are less susceptible to poorly specified manufacturers’ products as time can be taken upfront to validate the correct specification of materials. Designs are digitally constructed and virtually tested before moving on to the manufacturing phase. This process eliminates waste and achieves highly accurate and airtight building envelopes designed and built to higher sustainability requirements. Not only is the actual construction of the building “greener” but volumetric manufactured buildings are also more energy efficient – reducing heating requirements and in-use carbon emissions for the lifetime of the building.

Integrating upstream and downstream construction practises and achieving sustainability

Volumetric modular construction presents an opportunity to integrate upstream with downstream construction practices and achieve sustainability gains throughout the entire process.

A smart modular construction regime can operationalise the collection and storage of components’ lifecycle information. Allowing the sector to build the capabilities needed to support the maintenance, recovery and reuse of modular components – further supporting the UK Green Building Council’s vision for a more sustainable built environment that eliminates waste and maximises resource efficiency.


Richard Hipkiss

Development Director

Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA)

Tel: 0044 (0) 2475 90 1938





Please note: this is a commercial profile.


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